Imagine a time when there were no automobiles. It can seem like those were the caveman days, but it is all relative. Cars did not start to appear until the end of the 19th century which in a way wasn’t all that long ago.
You might think that this innovation would put a lot of people out of business as motorized vehicles replaced horse-drawn carriages.
But the truth is that some carriage makers saw the handwriting on the wall and they already had the ability to produce bodies. So, all they had to do was add an engine to a modified version of what they were already manufacturing.
These were the beginnings of the Studebaker company. Studebaker started out as a manufacturer of carriages, a partnership between three brothers. They built their first carriage in 1857 and they got a huge boost when they were awarded a contract to provide wagons to the Union army during the Civil War.
Studebaker was located in South Bend, Indiana and the company became an enormous part of the city. Studebaker started getting into the auto making business in 1902 and they built electric cars through 1911.
During that time they were supplying bodies to some companies that were manufacturing gasoline powered models. They subsequently started manufacturing their own gasoline powered cars in 1904 in a partnership agreement with a company called Garford, which was out all Elyria, Ohio
In 1911 the Studebaker Corporation was formed as a maker of motor vehicles in its own right. Interestingly enough to those who may be interested in financial markets, it was Lehman Brothers and Goldman Sachs who were behind the financing of the Studebaker Corporation.
Studebaker went on to make classic motor vehicles through the 1967 model year, and the company clearly had a great deal of impact on the automobile industry as we know it. We will look at some famous Studebaker models in future posts, but this is a little bit about the history of the company.